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Salute Novato's Pioneers During Cemetery Stroll

Visit Pioneer Memorial Cemetery this weekend to pay respects and learn some local history on Memorial Day.

The Novato Cemetery was created in 1898 for the first settlers or pioneers of Novato. The name of the cemetery has changed over the years to Pioneer Memorial Cemetery and was designated by the state of California as a point of historic interest in 1993.

Drawings from 1877 depict the cemetery as a treeless knoll top. The tallest structures were the marble monuments dedicated to the Haven and Sweetser families who planted 44,000 apple trees around the knoll and created what then called the largest apple orchard in the world.

One hundred years later, Pioneer Memorial Cemetery is a quick hike up a gentle sloping paved path in . The short path meanders around the cemetery under the various towering shade trees.

Once you reach the top, the joyful sounds of children playing in the nearby playground can be heard whispering throughout the trees. It is so peaceful and a lovely memorial to our pioneers.

One can learn a lot about the history of Novato by viewing these well preserved gravestones. The cemetery is small, but there are 126 people at rest there, including military veterans, farmers and teachers. Click here to view the tombstone records from the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery.  

Worry May 24, 2012 at 03:39 PM
thanks for pointing this area out sue. many of our city's founding fathers and mothers lay at rest here. john atherton for one and quite a few other names that will be recognizable as many streets in novato bear their names. strolling through this cemetery is a fine way to spend an hour here in our hometown.
John Sammons May 24, 2012 at 05:17 PM
A few years ago during a clean up of Pioneer Park Cemetery a Kiwanis Key Club member found a Spanish American War grave marker thrown in the bushes. I have been trying since them to find who the vet was but none of the names listed are listed on the rolls at the California Military Museum in Sacramento. No time to go any deeper but if any of you are into genealogy - history give it a shot. The marker is at the History Museum.
Sue McQuinn May 24, 2012 at 05:42 PM
John, After reviewing the cemetery records. I imagine the marker belongs to Capt. William W. Hopkins. He was born in 1856 and died in 1937. The Spanish American War was fought in 1898 and he would have been 42. Take a look at the tombstone records in the story above.
John Sammons May 24, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Tried his name but he is not in CA records - would have to spend time in Archives to see if he is from any other state - record keeping back then was, needles to say, interesting. Was able to get better records for my Civil War and Revolutionary War ancestors.

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